December 30, 2007

Sunday morning

And the guests are still asleep. Time for some ranting....


Once again during our drive into Texas territory, I am convinced that driving a large SUV turns people into a$&h@les. They drive on the road the same way people with very fast sports cars do--with a sense of entitlement. And a W sticker....


I don't know where I read this, but someone really took Huckabee to task for his explanation of why he entered politics:
"I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives... I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."

So the answer isn't government, but he enters government and leaves the pulpit? 1

Me thinks that Huckabee is getting worse by the moment. I think he needs to go back to Arkansas and spend some time with his dog killing son.


The lefty blog world is abuzz with the news that the NY Times hired Bill Kristol to write a weekly column. As Sully notes, it can't be for his accurate analysis in Iraq:
"I think there's been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America, that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni, or the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq has always been very secular."

Yeah, that has turned out well. I heard Wolfowitz make a similar claim that Iraq lacked any kind of religious sectarianism, but thought that was just ignorance on his part. Sounds like it was neo-con doctrine. TPMcafe writer M. J. Rosenberg suggests that even after supporting this war and the 4,000 dead Americans and countless Iraqis, that the Times thinks that Kristol has some insight to offer:
He doesn't. The only thing I want to hear from bloody Kristol and the neocon thugs is an apology. But that won't happen.

Being a right-winger means never having to say your're sorry, no matter how much damage you do


On the theocracy watch, Bruce Wilson reports that our military is increasingly receiving indoctrination from fundamentalist Christians.
Materials discovered by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on the web site of Campus Crusade's Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, include pictures of US soldiers-in-training holding both assault rifles and Bibles (provided by Campus Crusade), and a promotional flier for the Ft. Jackson ministry's Bible study course, entitled "God's Basic Training", features a drawing of a Roman Legionnaire holding a sword and a shield emblazoned with a Christian cross. Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, has reportedly told soldiers at the base that "government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers."
I understand the military imagery of God's soldiers has a long history, but I am not sure I want our military to think they are fighting for God. And the imagery in the context of battling portions of the Islamic world recall the Crusades. I am sure it looks that way to many in the Middle East.


Speaking of theocrats, Frederick Clarkson worries that the ex-gay ministry has morphed into a wing of the dominionists
"But by the end of that decade, Harrison had taken note of the movement's increasing radicalism, symbolized for him by the minister at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in San Pedro, Calif., who performed an exorcism on him in an attempt to cast out the 'demons' said to be the cause of his homosexuality. Harrison finally quit the movement in 1990 after deciding he could, after all, reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith. Today, he speaks to parents of gay and lesbian children about the dangers he sees in the ex-gay movement. Harrison says the relatively recent alignment of Exodus International, one of the largest ex-gay groups with some 120 ministries in North America alone, with anti-gay Christian 'dominionists' -- people who want to impose Christian rules on the secular institutions of society -- has led to ex-gay ministers pursuing a hard-line message with young people that can only end in mental anguish and failure."


Sully points to an interesting questionnaire sent to Presidential candidates asking them their view on executive power. Giuliani didn't even respond (small man in search of a balcony) and evidently Ron Paul and John McCain were the only repubs to repudiate the Bush assertion that during war the President is essentially beyond oversight. Romney echoes Bush
On torture, he believes that the president can torture and is under no obligation even to answer questions about it



Speaking of Ron Paul and Sullivan, one of the Daily Dish readers weighs in on the revelation that Dr. Ron Paul doesn't believe in evolution and he is not happy.

Opposing evolution doesn't make Paul a bad person, obviously, but I am increasingly concerned about what electing a person who rejects the basic cornerstone of modern biology would mean for my scientific colleagues. As a zoology professor friend of mine suggested, evolution is the tree, the other scientific ideas are merely the ornaments.

This doesn't really change anything on Paul for me. I have decided that while he says many things that I like, there are a lot more that are frankly crazy. He adds a lot of good to this election debate, but would be a disaster as President.

December 28, 2007

Interesting post on masculinity

H/t to Ubub for one of the links from Jon Swift's best of the year posts. This series examines the masculinity issues behind school shootings and finds that many of them include young boys who don't fit into their friend's assumed proper masculine identity. Many of them, in fact, are derided with homophobic taunts.
“We found a striking pattern [while analyzing news] stories about the boys who committed the violence: nearly all had stories of being constantly bullied, beat up, and … ‘gay-baited,’” Kimmel wrote.

“And most strikingly, it was not because they were gay — at least there is no evidence to suggest that any of them were gay — but because they were different from the other boys: shy, bookish, honor students, artistic, musical, theatrical, non-athletic, ‘geekish,’ or weird,” he continued.
Nothing excuses their decision to use violence, but it does suggest that this issue of masculinity is complicated and especially difficult for many young men.

December 27, 2007

Jon Swift: Best Blog Posts of 2007 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves)

And here is how he describes it:
"Streak spends a long, profanity-laced day that will not be turned into a sitcom starring Tim Allen."

Heh. Thanks, Jon for your gracious support. And thanks to my readers here for weighing in on their favorite post.

Juan Cole on Iraq War myths

The one that caught my attention:
"Myth: The US overthrow of the Baath regime and military occupation of Iraq has helped liberate Iraqi women. Fact: Iraqi women have suffered significant reversals of status, ability to circulate freely, and economic situation under the Bush administration."

Institutional evil

I remember someone positing that anytime an institution started spending energy defending its territory (as opposed to doing what it formed to do) it started to move towards malevolence. At the time, we were thinking about the Catholic church becoming so defensive of Church history or Church secrets that it spent so much time with lawyers and politicians rather than feeding the poor. But it could apply to any institution.

But recently, I have started thinking of something similar. What if an institution starts to act counter to its beliefs even as its rhetoric suggests a rededication to those beliefs? And this is not really aimed at Bush, though there are aspects. Does Bush really believe that the warrant-less wiretaps and signing statements make us more free? Or does he just say that?

But I am thinking of this more from a slow decline and almost a subconscious--the ability for humans to delude themselves. On a personal level, I am reminded of that every time SOF and I talk through an issue. We often find that the topic that sparks the discussion rarely is the root issue, and it takes some self-honesty to get to that truth.

This is perhaps why the conservative church vexes me so. Not to pick on them, but I fear that the last 7 years has revealed a certain disconnect between what they say they believe and their actions. I have suggested for a time that Bush doesn't actually reflect conservative Christian values. But with the language of the Church, he essentially won their endorsement for a whole host of policies that are completely counter to their beliefs. Torture, wiretapping, secrecy, etc. But the real danger appears that the conservative church still doesn't actually see this fraud. Making the church complicit in torture is kind of like Amnesty International turning over suspects to be tortured while speaking about human rights. Or Greenpeace funding their operations by hunting whales, but the rank and file continuing to support the organization.

It is a warning to all of us, of course. We are all more than capable of self-delusion.


I am sure you have heard by now that former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. I have to say that this does not surprise me. TPM is also reporting that someone close to Bhutto suggests that Musharraf is responsible in one way or another. I hope that isn't true, but anything is possible.

December 26, 2007

Vote "caging" and the GOP

"The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked 'Do not forward' to voters' homes. Letters returned ('caged') were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and—you got to love this—American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren't these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation—and the soldiers were overseas."

Doesn't seem very good for our Democracy. Yeah, I know. Democrats have a bad history of vote irregularities--especially in the machine politics of Daly's Chicago and others. But the Republicans seem to have learned some lessons and taken them to new professional heights lows. Vote caging, jamming phone banks, and using government agencies to secure votes, and all very effective.

When you mix that with a super-religious message, you get a real stealth campaign that can undermine the system while waving a Bible.

Uh Oh.

I wonder if this constitutes a "blog attack." To the Bat Cave!
"GodMen is 'a place where men can discuss real issues such as passivity, isolation, and pornography 'in a safe environment.' The events, which include worship, have powerful sound systems and huge video screens showing he-man videos like martial arts displays and car chases.'"

December 24, 2007

For the Ron Paul fans

Let's see how he approaches history. Hint, he thinks Lincoln started the Civil War. Oh, and he would vote against the Civil Rights Act if it were before him today.

Huckabee is disingenuous

Huckabee makes no apologies for Christmas ad in sermon | - Houston Chronicle: "'You can find Santa at every mall. You can find discounts in every store,' Huckabee said while speaking at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. 'But if you mention the name of Jesus, as I found out recently, it upsets the whole world. Forgive me, but I thought that was the point of the whole day.'"

December 23, 2007

Finally got around to some decorating

The Christmas Tree, that is. We have had it in the house sans ornaments for a week or so. That is ok. It smells so nice and looks so nice it was almost a shame to put stuff on it. But of course, we did.

A few of my favorite ornaments. And I wonder if any of them get me in trouble with the GWOC crowd.

1) CIL and I visited the Alamo one fall and I found this little gem. A miniature longhorn skull (nothing to do with UT, btw) with a Christmas wreath over one horn and "The Alamo" written on it. One of my favorites.

2) In 2002, I visited Kansas City for a conference and found this at a Pottery Barn. Could not resist as it sure looked like Sooner colors on Santa here.

3) This one will get me in trouble with Anglican, but I can't resist. After purchasing as many coffees in these colorful cups, I can't help but smile when I see this little ornament. Yeah, yeah, I know it is commercial. And it is A commercial. But I like it. And it is our tree.

4) This one will most likely get me on the list of those endangering Christmas in this country. But I don't care. We have never had a good tree topper and while searching for some of my favorite ornaments, I came across Buzz. SOF bought him for me when I was writing my dissertation and he kept a watchful eye over the process. I figured he could do the same for our tree.

The tree looks great. SOF did a great job of picking it out and putting the lights and most of the ornaments on last night.

Now we are ready for Christmas.


Hoover sent this plan to Truman in 1950. Imagine how Bush/Cheney might have responded?
"A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty."
Damn liberals always trying to take away our rights.

December 22, 2007

GWOC redux

Linda Seger: Explain to Me Again: When Will the War on Christmas Start? - Living on The Huffington Post: "But, so far, there seem to be no signs here of a war on Christmas. Nobody has tried to remove my creche from my home. I've been reading the Nativity Story in the Bible, and not one person has burst into my home to tear the Bible from my hands. I hear the Christmas music in the grocery store that I've been hearing every year for most of my life - the same songs of 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Jingle Bells' and 'I'll be Home for Christmas'."

Green churches--about time

And from Texas Methodists no less:
"'In an apparently unprecedented move for a large religious group, United Methodist churches of North Texas have joined forces to buy 'green' electricity generated by windmills in the western part of the state.'"

Saturday review

On that story about the Icelandic woman detained by HSA, Sully notes a response from a Republican:
As someone who is increasingly and unapologetically isolationist in my attitude towards trade, immigration and global policing, I feel no sympathy for her. Let's translate her pity party in every language so future potential visitors understand one thing loud & clear: Follow our laws, or go home in disgrace.

Sully doesn't exactly sigh, but you get that he is not impressed with the GOP response:
"One thing people like me have to understand: the core of today's GOP is not merely indifferent to this kind of abuse, it actively supports it. Just as it actively supports and endorses torture. It's one reason I feel so alienated by the Republican party I once felt some loyalty and affinity for."


Even here in Oklahoma, we hear about the GWOC. Rumors circulated that our AG had advised state universities to not use the word "Christmas." Our AG, of course, denies that, and the story seems ridiculous on its face. But it helps the religious right complain about how Christianity is under assault.

Sigh. One more bit of stupidity like this and I swear I am enlisting in the War on Christmas. I will punch the next caroler in the face.

(No I won't.)


Ah, the Huck. First, from Tony's blog, news that he will speak at the odious John Hagee's church. Next even Peggy Noonan thinks he is a sham which can't be good news for the Huckster. She rightly points out that the cross image in the ad was absolutely on purpose and is part of Huckabee's attempt to preach to one crowd while then claiming to do no such thing. And further, she sees him as an intellectual light-weight (my words)
Mr. Huckabee is clever. He puts forth his policies, such as they are, based on a faith-based understanding of public policy, and if you disagree with his policies, or take a hard shot at them, or at him, he suggests the reason is that you look down on evangelicals. This creates a new fissure in a party already riven by fissures. He has been accused by some in the conservative press of tearing the party apart, but it was being torn apart before he got on the scene. His rise is not a cause of collapse but an expression of it.
But she also notes the main reason why I distrust him:
In an interview this week with David Brody of CBN, Mr. Huckabee said people everywhere were coming to him and saying, "We are claiming Isaiah 54 for you, that the weapons formed against you will not prosper."
If George Bush has not taught me anything, it is that I loathe people who claim that God is on their side. Huckabee does that while claiming he doesn't. He is not to be trusted, and like Bush, will further undermine evangelical credibility. If that is still even possible.


More on the military. One blogger noted that the story on the declining Army officer base has more behind it. Not only have they now allowed criminals to join, but they bizarrely refuse to admit men and women who's genitals are not perfect. Best example, undescended testicles is a reason to exclude. And of course, there are the gays.
I have nothing but contempt for a policy that permits convicted criminals to serve while asking people to leave simply because their sexuality or gender does not fit neatly into society's binary system. I cannot say whether I have ever served with any gay or lesbian soldiers; DADT became law about a year after I was commissioned, and while I'm sure that the law of averages means that some of the men and women I worked with over the years were gays or lesbians, I'm equally confident they would not feel comfortable volunteering that information under the threat of DADT. But I can say with complete confidence that I would greatly prefer going into combat with a gay man than with a criminal, and the notion that homosexuality is in any way worse than criminal conduct is abhorrent.

I am sure this is the fault of the liberals too. Probably Ted Kennedy or John Kerry and their shenanigans.

December 21, 2007

Feministing's "Sexist Quote of the Year"

And it is our President:
"Q: Tell us about your future son-in-law, Henry Hager. Did he do right and ask for Jenna’s hand?
The President: “He kind of sidled up to me and said, ‘Can I come and see you?’ We were sitting outside the presidential cabin here, and he professed his love for Jenna and said, would I mind if he married her? And I said, ‘Got a deal.’ [Laughter] And I’m of the school, once you make the sale, move on. But he had some other points he wanted [to make]. He wanted to talk about how he would be financially responsible.”"

Because daughters are for sale.


2007 Top Albums

Returning last night from guitar, I heard this followup on the NPR poll for year's best music. I voted earlier and wanted to hear the results. (You can see their top 25 at the site, and hear the story as well.) Their top list includes most of my favorites as well. Wilco came in at number 4. Feist (an album that is growing on me) at 3, Arcade Fire at 2, New Pornographers 14, and Josh Ritter 19. Rilo Kiley came in at 25 and that is another album that is really growing on me.

They have a couple that I probably wouldn't have chosen. I like a couple of the Amy Winehouse songs, but also find many annoying. "Rehab" is a great song as is "Back to Black" but others grate on my nerves. I haven't heard the Modest Mouse but haven't been that much of a fan, and the same goes for the White Stripes (Though I loved the "denial twist" off their previous album).

But they list several albums that are late adds to my own listening. I resisted these for a while, but finally gave them a listen. I am not sure they all end up in my top ten, but they are all good.

I haven't listened to the Okkervil River album that much, and there are still songs I am not completely sold on, but it is a very interesting album and I think worth a little more attention.

Ubub gave me a few tracks of The National and I didn't really care for it. When I saw this album mentioned in several best lists (I think Paste Magazine had them number 1), I finally decided to give it a listen, and it is very good. Not great, perhaps, and I don't think would be my number one album, but a very good one.

I believe Zalm is a big fan of Andrew Bird, but like the National, I had listened to a few tracks that didn't really sell me. Since it was on Emusic, I finally decided to just download the
entire album and am very glad I did. Every new time through and I am impressed. I recently started using a playlist of stuff from this year and when Bird comes on, it is one of those moments when I run to the computer to see who is playing.

For some reason, Radiohead completely eluded me during their heyday. I remember hearing about them, but really didn't know who they were. This fall when the band released their album first to fans over the net, I was intrigued. I loved the entire idea having the fans set the price. I went to their site and bought it, mostly just to support the idea. I paid 10 bucks for the album, which is what I would have paid later.

After downloading, I listened to it a few times and then moved on. But as it kept coming up, I became more and more intrigued. Their last two songs--"Jigsaw falling into place" and "videotape" are as good as songs get. Seriously. Seriously good.

December 20, 2007

Speaking of women

If true, we don't treat visiting women in this country very well either.

I remember when we justified the invasion to help Iraqi women

Unfortunately, our own women over there are being raped by our own people:
"Jones said she was held against her will after she finished a doctor's exam that confirmed she was raped.
'The KBR security then took me to a trailer and then locked me in a room with two armed guards outside my door,' Jones said. 'I was in prison in the trailer for approximately a day. One of the guards finally had mercy and let me use a phone. I called my dad, who contacted Congressman Ted Poe, who took actions to get me out of the country. I believe he saved my life.'
Poe testified the State Department dispatched two U.S. Embassy agents in Baghdad within 48 hours after he contacted the department. The agents rescued Jones and returned her to Texas, he said."
These things do occur, I understand. But there is a atmosphere of lawlessness and lack of oversight in Iraq. Our own Justice Department refused to even testify at the hearings.

A little help, please

Our friend Jon Swift has asked me to submit what I think is my best post of the year for his own rundown. I have compiled the ones I like under the label Best of 2007 nominee and then added a poll to the right side. I have my favorites narrowed down a little, but would like to see what my readers think. Or if you have any other suggestions.

Army Officer retention

A fascinating article on a growing problem in the Army. Young officers are leaving in higher numbers than before, and especially the young and gifted ones. So as Bush or whoever follows wants to expand the army, they may be doing so with fewer good officers, and that is troubling.

The reasons are complicated and rather interesting. The strain on family (divorces have tripled since 2002), the geography of the military (stationed on bases like Killeen, Texas), and the changing role for women even within the military. Some goes to Bush himself. Diverting away from the initial goal in Afghanistan cost in troop morale, and the increased deployments is not helping.
Studies show that one deployment actually improves retention, as soldiers draw satisfaction from using their skills in the real world. Second deployments often have no effect on retention. It's the third deployment that begins to burn out soldiers. And a fourth? There's no large-scale historical precedent for military planners to examine—yet.
But part of it is the leadership who is there now. This writer suggests a long gradual decline that really started after Vn, when Army leaders decided that they would simply avoid counter-insurgency conflicts from now on. And that showed up within the military as conflict between older Generals and some of the young thinkers from the Point.
"You have a three-star general like John Vines come down to talk to us, and he says, 'Just go out there and shoot people,'" Kapinos said. "And you know that that is not how to fight an insurgency. Everyone who's ever read the most basic article on counterinsurgency knows that is not how you're going to win."

"Yeah," Morin agreed. "The general would come out and give these bellicose speeches, and every time he did that, I'd have to go back to my guys and say, 'What the general really meant to say was ...'"

It always stuns me when some of our commenters here or elsewhere continually say that liberals are soft on national security. While I certainly think that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have been lately--it is because of their capitulation to Bush, not for opposing him. I have always admired people who served and have been fascinated by the military. Not enough to want to join, mind you, but from the outside, I see so much positive there. I have had students from the military and some have been among the best and most thoughtful. One former student was a Navy Seal who, unlike some of his fellow students, could thoughtfully address issues like patriotism and masculinity. And while conservatives complain about higher taxes, I would gladly pay more to ensure that our returning vets are taken care of. It seems to me that it has often been conservative "chicken hawks" who have done far more damage to our military than any liberal.

Anyway. Read the article. It is a good one.

December 19, 2007

Politicized Justice

This is the Rove/Bush version:
"WASHINGTON — The Justice Department delayed prosecuting a key Republican official for jamming the phones of New Hampshire Democrats until after the 2004 election, protecting top GOP officials from the scandal until the voting was over."

Faith and Politics

Street Prophets has a very interesting post on historical trends in religious/political speak. They tracked the usage of religious speech from our Presidents from FDR forward and discovered that talking about God in speeches has soared since Ronald Reagan. What is more interesting, to me at least, is the type of invocation. Presidents prior to Reagan were far more likely to speak about God in a "please help us" type of way--what they term speaking as "petitioner." But recent Presidents are more likely to speak as "prophet; that is, the wording suggests that one has knowledge of divine wishes and desires."

This convergence of faith and politics is exactly what the nation’s Founders sought to avoid. Many of these men were deeply religious, but they were only an ocean removed from the religious strife that had plagued Europe for centuries. With these experiences in mind, they created a Constitution that doesn't contain a single mention of God and prohibits religious tests for those seeking office.

Their vision is at serious risk today. History has shown with tragic consistency that an intimate relationship between religion and politics does irreparable damage to both -- from the crusades of medieval times to the terrorism of modern times. Constant use of the God strategy by political leaders encourages just such a relationship. When George W. Bush justifies the Iraq War by saying that liberty is “God’s gift to humanity” (2003 State of the Union) and that America’s “calling” is to deliver that gift to the Iraqi people (countless times), he is offering something quite like a divine vision for U.S. foreign policy.

It is precisely this conflation of abstract claims about God with the concrete goals of the state that led esteemed religion scholar R. Scott Appleby to call the administration’s rhetoric about spreading freedom and liberty “a theological version of Manifest Destiny.” At a minimum, this approach risks repeating the errors of the original manifest destiny: unduly emphasizing the norms and values of white, conservative Protestants at the expense of those who will not or cannot conform.

Just as important, pairing religious doctrine with public policy encourages moderate citizens to conclude that the U.S. government’s actions are the will of God -- or at least congruent with such wishes -- and therefore beyond question. Dogmatic political voices and hints of divinely inspired policy are not the ingredients of a robust republic; they’re the recipe for hubris, jingoism, and the decline of democracy. These are disquieting possibilities, but the words of our political leaders in recent decades have moved America toward them. Both the Gospel of John and the record of evils past teach one thing: in the beginning, always, are words.

To concretely grasp what is at stake, we might recall John Kennedy's address before conservative Protestant clergy in September 1960. Unlike current candidates, the Catholic Kennedy declared: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," "I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair," and that he would make decisions "without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates." Such a presidency was essential, he said, because "Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart."

At this rate we'll soon be there. Tragically, we may already be.

Torture and tyranny

Oops. Turns out that Bush people knew about these tapes a long time ago
At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.


Darius Rejali discusses the history of torture in America
If the spread of torture techniques suggests a blurry line between "us" and "them," it also teaches that there's no real boundary between "there" and "here." It would be ignoring history to assume that what happens in an American-run prison in Iraq will stay in Iraq. Soldiers who learn torture techniques abroad get jobs as police when they return, and the new developments in torture you read about today could yet be employed in a neighborhood near you.


H/T to Tony for Pastor Dan's great challenge to our political leaders:
Do not think that I will defend you against charges of insufficient Christian belief if you are not willing to fight with every fiber of your being the American practice of torture, the same practice that caused the death of the Savior and Lord you and I claim to follow. Nothing could be more opposed to the Christian faith than allowing torture, directly or indirectly. If you let our interrogators torture their prisoners, you place your claim to discipleship in serious jeopardy. Stamp this curse out, once and for all.


Perhaps the only Democrat with a spine has been Chris Dodd. He seems to have single-handedly stopped this ridiculous retroactive immunity disaster. At least for now.


More Huck. One explanation as to why the right fears Huckabee too
The fear is losing. On some level, they know that these positions freak out mainstream America. That’s why Bush fumbled about on Roe v. Wade during the 2004 debates and could only bring himself to speak in code (“Dred Scott”). The backlash shows that these people – like much of the GOP establishment – are ashamed of this coalition. They're happy to make out with them behind the football bleachers on Saturday night, but ignore them in the lunchroom on Monday.

December 18, 2007

Some interesting news items

First, it appears that yet another Bush argument is failing to meet legal muster. Remember when Dick Cheney made the visitor logs private? I think it was in response to calls to find out who Jack Abramoff visited and for how long, but it also included information on former gay prostitute Jeff Gannon and how he was able to bypass normal press vetting to sit in the front row and ask the President leading and stupid questions. Well, those logs are public documents, a federal judge ruled Monday:
rejecting a legal strategy that the Bush administration had hoped would get around public records laws and let them keep their guests a secret.
The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration, which has fought the release of records showing visits by prominent religious conservatives."
I am sure the White House will fight this as long as they can, but maybe these will come out. I have almost forgotten--who the hell do these people work for? I thought they worked for us, but that is probably just pre 9-11 thinking.


Speaking of pre 9-11, Sully points to recent evidence that suggests that Bush and his people have instituted a "surveillance state" that a tyrant would envy--oh, and he did so two weeks after taking office--not, as every Bushie parrots--after 9-11 "changed everything."



The Huck is starting to really bug me. Here is an "ad" where he gets to play again to the evangelical vote. Translation: "I am more Christian than anyone else running."

But, of course, don't ask him to actually live it out. Lucky for him, the evangelical base doesn't actually do that. And speaking of the Huck, the story about his son
killing a dog at Scout camp makes me sick. I know I am a dog person, but I don't understand such cruelty. And if this sick bastard (who then went on to make Eagle scout--gag) would have so little compassion for a stray dog, what makes you think he cares about humans?

So, every time Huckabee plays the "look at me, just a simple Baptist preacher" I will think about his sick son killing a dog. And Huckabee defending him.


More Bush. And this time we learn the cost of this president is in the trillions of dollars. Sure glad he is a conservative.
In a speech today at the National Press Club, he said, "If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company's management and directors needed a major shake-up." Walker urged greater transparency and accountability over the federal government's operations, financial condition, and fiscal outlook.


"The federal government's fiscal exposures totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30, 2007, up more than $2 trillion from September 30, 2006, and an increase of more than $32 trillion from about $20 trillion as of September 30, 2000," Walker said. "This translates into a current burden of about $175,000 per American or approximately $455,000 per American household."

December 17, 2007

American university faculty anti-American--says Tony Snow

And also a ‘war on God’:
The winsome and articulate Snow charmed his audience with wit: “The average Iranian is more Pro-American than virtually any college faculty in this country.” And with serious talk about the war on terror and “the second war in this country, the war on God.”

I am so tired of this crap. I guess Tony has forgotten that only 29 percent of the country thinks his old boss is competent.

December 16, 2007

Top Albums 2007: The Story--and Xmas Tree time

A combined post.

First, we had a nice Sunday. It was the first time we have seen the sun in many, many days. Everyone around us has power and we are grateful for that. The wreckage from the storm is everywhere.

But the wreckage is not as bad as I thought. As bad as it looks, there are so many trees that made it through relatively unscathed. Or not destroyed. Our maple, we think, will make it just fine. It, like the neighborhood, will look different, but it will be ok.

So, only a week delayed, we decided to get a Christmas tree (we wanted to go last Sunday, but the ice storm had already started). One little detail, this was the first Christmas to buy a tree sans pickup. But the Matrix is pretty space efficient, as you will see:

SOF had to sit in the back seat for the mile ride home, but the car worked like a charm. We also found that the twine wrap made for a much easier transport into the house and onto the stand:

Unbound, it looks a little more like a Christmas tree:

Decorating might take a little longer....


Now for the music. A Christmas music aside, by the way. I have started disliking Christmas music. I think I have just tired of it. But this year, I made a playlist of Christmas music that were made more recently. Mindy Smith, Aimee Mann, and Sarah McLachlan make up part of it. I also have really enjoyed Sufjan Stevens 4 or 5 album Christmas set. I like his regular stuff, but think that his sound is just perfect for Christmas stuff.


But for the best of the year.
I don't have that many artists in my collection named Brandi, but this one is a gem. We downloaded her single and waited anxiously for the release of The Story. Compared to her first album, this one really jumps. It was recorded in live sessions--not live in front of an audience, but not in piecemeal tracks. And that gives this album a fresh quality. Carlile's voice is another marvel. I can't recall a voice that has grabbed me like hers. Her power sometimes is scary, and often even sounds as if she is pressing it to the limit. I don't know if she will be able to sustain it, but this album has some great moments. If you can, listen to the title track.

As an album, it might not measure up to the great albums in our collections, but it is a very good one. Well worth an inclusion in this list.

On "wussification"

Our conversation with the pugilistic pastor has turned into a discussion on torture and recent history. But it began with a discussion on masculinity. He is a member (or something) of a group that hopes to fight against the feminization of Christianity.


I have read Eldridge (not convinced) and I have also read my history. I know that this is just the latest in a long line of people who decide that Jesus has to be more like the one they want--Billy Sunday did it when he wanted a brawling Jesus. Bruce Barton did it when he created a Jesus who would be a kick-ass salesman and businessman. The Promise Keepers did it too.

Whatever. As far as I am concerned, if these men want to beat drums and play soldier--that is their choice.

But the "wussification" intrigues me. "Wussy," of course, is probably a combination of "wimp" and "..." well, the "P" word. The word used to denigrate women as weak and therefor denigrate men who might be like those women. The misogyny is palpable and the fact that this "comedian" has an album dedicated to this "wussification" speaks volumes.

Forget political correctness, the word is simply a "Christianese" attempt to avoid saying something coarse. But the meaning is still there, as is the attack on women. And he embraces it and uses it to disparage others. Just as Jesus would do, we are told. Somehow, the Jesus who spoke with the woman at the well and stopped the adulteress' execution would disparage other men by telling them they are like women. That he would disparage the traits of forgiveness, kindness, nurturing, compassion, etc.

Are we asked to follow a Christ who would do this? I would suggest not. Anymore than we are asked to follow a Christ who would sit smoking in the corner while his compatriots waterboarded Judas. Anymore than we are asked to follow a Christ who would cheer the death penalty, or mock the poor.

I think we can do better. We can move beyond obvious and antiquated gender stereotypes. We can do better. We can discuss gender roles without disparaging women. I think we can do better than this comedian and his followers.

"holes in their heads"

For some reason, my serial and combative commenter came to mind when I read this David Frum piece. I can't stand this man, you should know. He proudly took credit for originating the phrase "axis of evil" and has been one of the Bush soldiers who has undermined our country. But when he is right, he is right. When he says that conservatives have, in their attack on liberal elitism, completely dismissed competence as a requirement for office--he is right. If only he had that same thought in 2000.

And yet it also has to be admitted: Many of us on the conservative side have fed this monster. (Rightly) aghast at the abuse of expertise by liberal judges, liberal bureaucrats and liberal academics, we have sometimes over-reacted by denying the importance of expertise altogether.

" 'Heart' is crucial," one of George W. Bush's early evangelical supporters argued in a 2005 newspaper column. This same writer accused those conservatives who questioned Bush's "faith-based initiative" of having "holes in their souls."

So now instead of holes in our souls, we conservatives are getting candidates with holes in their heads.
Heh. So very true. Unfortunately, also true about his former boss, but I doubt that Frum would admit that. Not so true about the continue attack on "liberal judges" but that is right wing gospel.

For one, Frum is attacking Mike Huckabee, who he clearly thinks lacks the intellect or curiosity to be President. (yeah, once again, how did Bush pass?) And according to TPM, many on the right are wringing their hands about Huck's surge in the polls. Steve Benen and Kevin Drum suggest that the right is uncomfortable with Huckabee because he is the real deal--not some fake Christian who can speak to the churches. I have my doubts. Huckabee doesn't really suggest much more depth than Bush. He just speaks the faith language better.

I agree with Sully here. This is the right wing reaping the whirlwind they have been trying to sow this last 20 years. They have undermined government and competence to the point that they gave us Bush. Now they wonder why the right wing base prefers a person of faith to one who is competent.

December 15, 2007

Saturday review--edited

It is cold and dreary outside with occasional snow flurries. But it is (thankfully) warm inside and we are listening to some music and drinking coffee.

Ah, but the news continues. Why is it that Oklahoma's representatives continually embarrass? Inhofe constantly makes us look stupid by denying global warming, and now we find that Tom Coburn is blocking a bill that would investigate civil rights-era killings. Yeah, Tom, we get it. You are a fiscal conservative. But some things are worth spending.
(I originally had Coburn "blogging" the bill, but was alerted to the reality that there is no way that Coburn is smart enough to "blog.")


Speaking of funds, we continue to learn that SuperBaptist "I am not running for your Pastor in Chief" Huckabee is... how do we put it... ethically challenged. As it must be, I guess. The Pastor is the one who used a secret group to raise money he said to supplement his meager Lt Governor salary. How handy that the group funded the Huck to travel around and speak against the Clinton health care plan. Oh, and he didn't declare that income in his financial disclosure and refused to reveal the identity of his donors.

Sure glad he believes that
faith doesn’t just influence me, it really defines me.”
Imagine what a crook he would be if he didn't have his faith to rein him in?

Natalie blogs about the idea of class in America
The Republicans were/are geniuses at this! One of the many successes they have had is regarding class. We can’t and won’t talk about class in our country because the Right has essentially outlawed any discussions about it. If anyone tries to bring up the issue, accusations of “class warfare” abound. Very ironic considering who it’s coming from.
Politically, Republicans have been very successful at controlling the dialogue on a lot of our political issues. This rejection of class warfare is just one. The absolute attack on any tax is another. And both harm us as a country. We can't talk about income disparity and we certainly can't talk about those things that hold us together.

This ice storm has been a good reminder of that. I was reminded as we sat in our cold house about how much we rely on others. We had to depend on utilities and city/state officials to manage this emergency well. And they did. But those things are worth paying for. Taxes are a good thing. Not all, of course, but many function as an investment in community. Hell, I thought conservatives liked communities.


Speaking of things that conservatives should fear, I haven't blogged about the Don Siegelman case at all, but there are legitimate concerns that Bush/Rove were able to so politicize the judicial system that they were able to convict and imprison a Democrat in Alabama.

I don't know if the story is true, but it does appear to me that conservatives should fear this. When Clinton allegedly acquired FBI files of their adversaries, there was a huge outcry--and not unreasonably so. But I am reminded that it has been conservatives who have done this in the past. LBJ would allegedly call people at home in the middle of the night to yell at them, but Nixon would call the IRS.


I blogged a while back about Bush allegedly referring to the Constitution as a "goddamned piece of paper." doubts this story and I tend to agree. But as I noted in my original post, the fact that this event may not have happened does not lessen the feeling for many of us that Bush holds the constitution in that light. He certainly has acted that way.


Finally, back to our favorite Christianist representative, Steve King. The other day, he backed a resolution in the House to defend Christianity (which is under assault, evidently) and now says that American history and Christianity are the same thing. Seriously, where do you Republicans find these people? We have our share of nutjobs in the Democratic party, but the Republican delegation appears to have more than its share of absolute whackjobs. In fact, it appears that they have a stranglehold on the party right now.

You sane and grownup Republicans should really do something about that.

December 14, 2007

Electricity on--allows me to read news--updated

Is that a good thing?

Not when I see this:
On Tuesday, our brave US House passed HR 847 by a count of 327-9 recognizing 'the importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith', because - really, these days - what else possibly deserves more of their attention?
The sponsor was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who - as Think Progress reported - voted against similar legislation honoring holidays of other faiths. He then appeared on Fox News to explain the real reasoning behind this - I suppose - innocuous, if annoying bill. His actual intentions are of course far more expansive....

In more of a speech than an interview, King explained that his motivation was to uphold America's status as a 'Christian nation.'

"It's time we stood up and said so, and said to the rest of America, Be who you are and be confident. And let's worship Christ and let's celebrate Christmas for the right reasons."

Yes, what a great use of our House of Representatives--to defend Christmas. And how obnoxious for a sitting congressman to say that American has to worship Christ. Tony also posted on this and suggests that the King's legislation was a rather spiteful response to other equally useless resolutions recognizing other religions. No doubt that Congress could find other things to spend more time on, right? Energy legislation, Iraq, actual oversight?



Speaking of obnoxious, during our ice storm (or right before) some deranged person shot up two religious establishments in Colorado. I am sure you saw this. A horrible tragedy, and I am so sorry for those who lost family and friends. I am also sorry for the deranged individual who clearly was mentally disturbed.

So how did the Family Research Council respond?
If you are Tony Perkins, this is a time to whine, portray yourself as a victim and make utterly tactless comparisons between the shooting and alleged "hostility" toward Christians in the media.
In a statement e-mailed to supporters yesterday, this is what Perkins had to say: "It is hard not to draw a line between the hostility that is being fomented in our culture from some in the secular media toward Christians and evangelicals in particular and the acts of violence that took place in Colorado yesterday. But I will say no more for now other than that our friends at New Life Church and YWAM are in our thoughts and prayers."
So any criticisms of people like Tony Perkins fuels this kind of violence? Talk To Action reports that the shooter grew up in a deeply religious Christian family. As the blog notes, it would be irresponsible and offensive to blame that upbringing for the shooting, but Tony Perkins sees no problem in blaming it on liberals and secularists.


Eugene Robinson (one of my favorite writers right now) suggests that Huckabee is truly the scariest of the frontrunners on the Republican side. I think he is far too soft on Giuliani, who, as far as I can tell, would take Bush's policies and double them--but I agree with his take on Huckagee as essentially "anti-reason."
I guess I worry even more about clear signs that he's simply not up to the job and that he's also not the nice guy he seems to be.

It matters that Huckabee seems to have been the last person in the country to learn that U.S. intelligence agencies now believe Iran ended its nuclear weapons program four years ago. And it matters that so much of his gorgeous rhetoric is devoid of actual meaning.

In the debate Wednesday, for example, he answered a question about education with an eloquent, and apparently learned, disquisition on left-brain and right-brain thinking and the need to teach art and music so that going to school isn't just a boring grind. That sounds great, until you recall that it's in the boring, grind-it-out subjects where American students are lagging. Did he mean that our schools should teach less math and science? Or was it just a bunch of words designed to convey a certain sophistication in his thinking?

Even more troubling is the way he deals with questions about Romney's Mormon faith. Huckabee studied theology as a seminarian, yet when asked about Mormonism he becomes a country bumpkin who doesn't know anything beyond the rumors he has heard. He apologizes later -- as he did this week for his false suggestion that Mormons believe Satan is Jesus's brother -- but by then, of course, the damage is done. Huckabee could easily allay fundamentalist voters' qualms about Romney's beliefs, or at least put them in context. He chooses not to.

Huckabee is quick on his feet and funny. He, for all his religious posturing, loves to take cheap shots at liberals, and likes to credit God for his poll numbers (Jesus evidently doesn't love Hillary). And, as I have said before, the most troubling thing for me is his desire to use his faith for votes, but then claim that he doesn't actually have to think about how that faith might, just maybe, question how he treats other people, and maybe, just maybe, stop him from pulling the same crass political stunts that his opponents do.


Ok, enough. The heat is back on and just in time. We are expecting snow tonight.

Updated Just saw Hitting Bedrock: Hagee: God is an unreliable vending machine and remembered the old days when I used to watch John Hagee out of some kind of perverse entertainment. He strikes me as one of the worst of the bunch--horrible theology, and seemingly a worse person. I still remember one of his sermons where he bragged about how badly he hurt another football player in high school. I don't remember the theology, but remember thinking that I didn't like this person.

December 13, 2007

Glorious power--updated

And light and most importantly, heat. My older dog was shivering a lot this afternoon and I was worried about him. But after lunch, I saw the brave power people working in the alley behind us and walked back to the house to see lights. Stranger still, while my cable television (and high speed internet) line is draped under the very same tree that took out my power Monday morning--cable still works.

Here is hoping that our good fortune is shared by the rest of those without power. Like our friend Anglican.

Updated: I hate having power when so many still lack. Anglican is staying with friends and staying warm, though I know how disruptive that is. Keep a good thought for them. And for those like Sarah and Dwight who, like us, have dogs to keep warm--here is a special thought. And for those who live across the street from us, I am so very sorry that this side got power first.


Still no power and I must admit that the cold nights are starting to wear on me. I feel like a real wimp saying that, but it is taking its toll. I think the real problem is that the house is not a sanctuary, but a place I dread going to.

But I am cautiously optimistic as I saw utility trucks in the neighborhood for the first time since this all started.

December 12, 2007

Some progress...

Today we had at least some progress towards normalcy. While talking to my friend M, she mentioned that our electrical contractor (she recommended these guys years ago) were at here house as we spoke. I dropped by and they agreed to come over and check out my downed power line. Luckily, there was no damage to the meter, panel or the conduit, so they were able to rehang the line.

We aren't out of the woods yet. First, the neighborhood still doesn't have power, and second, the city may still have to inspect the connection.

But it is progress. At the very least, we can take the dogs into the back yard.

On the down side, SOF's mom is back in the hospital and can use your good thoughts. We will keep you posted.

Still cold--still dark--obscenity warning

But so are most around us. Except for those rude people across the street with the generator. We can hear it since things are so quiet. Just annoying. And tempers are getting short. I ran into a friend at Borders yesterday and his response fit with others.
Me: Hey, you have power?

him: no.

Me (explains that tree took out our individual line)

him: Yeah, exactly. Tree fucking ripped that motherfucking thing off the wall. What do you call it? The meter?

Heh. That added some levity to the day. And yesterday was grim. It was rainy and overcast all day, and that started to wear on my own emotions. I think a little sunshine would help everyone's spirits.

But that may have to wait. The recent forecast calls for snow on Friday night. I doubt we will have power by then.

But we are doing ok. SOF went to work today and I am running errands and heading into school to give two finals.

December 11, 2007

Ice storm update

to a Borders for some internet access this afternoon. Last night was cold and dark, and the animals found it pretty upsetting, I think. We stayed warm, but did not sleep particularly well. Tonight we could get another round--which is unnerving, and we really have no idea when we will get power back. Could be 3 days. Could be a week or so. Who knows. What is weird is that much of the town is up and running. Finals were canceled yesterday, but are back on today and tomorrow (presumably). Listening to the radio has been rather frustrating. We get a few notices of stuff we know (lots and lots of people have lost power) and there might be more tonight--but then it is back to the ads for Christmas shopping.

Here are a couple of photos from yesterday. First, our maple.

And this in the back yard.

Unfortunately, we lost a few more limbs today and the backyard looks pretty grim--especially the downed power line.

Anyway. More later as I know it.

December 10, 2007

The Ice Storm isn't very fun

We lost power about 3 am this morning and awoke to find our wonderful maple in shreds in our front yard. We don't know if it will make it or not. After scrounging coffee from some amazing neighbors, we heard more trees crash and realized that a big one went down in our backyard taking out our power line, cable and phone.

So, my internet access is extremely limited and will be for sometime. We expect to be without power for several days--and that is the optimistic view.

Anyway, I will be back when I can.

December 9, 2007

The other part of that story

Tony noted the WaPo story in the comments that clearly defines waterboarding as torture. But the other part of the story--unfortunately, as Glenn Greenwald notes, is the Democratic leadership's knowledge and aquiesence to such lawbreaking by our President.
I wish none of this were true. I wish we had a genuine, vibrant opposition party. It would be indescribably beneficial if the rare, isolated and usually marginalized voices within the Democratic Party (and the even rarer and more marginalized voices in the GOP) were predominant. But they just aren't. That's just a fact that can't be ignored. The Democratic Party in Congress is largely controlled and led by those who have enabled and affirmatively supported the worst aspects of the Bush foreign policy and the most severe abuses of our country's political values.

Ice Storm cometh

Yeah, it is pretty dicey out there. The ground has not been frozen so the worst places are still the bridges and overpasses. We found that out on our brief and chilly walk.

In other news, local media is no better than the national. Watching one of the locals trying to get some up-to-date weather, they ended their brief bit with this "you are watching Ice Storm--2007"

Yeah, an ice storm isn't enough, we have to brand it. Sigh.

Keep warm.


As the Bootlegger noted, attending ballet was not the normal event for me growing up. (Just a simple shepherd boy from the West...) And as I sat in that sold-out audience, I realized I had probably never attended a ballet before. Perhaps my mother can help me here--I am not sure I ever saw the Nutcracker before and I suspect that would have been the only option. I have attended many Christmas presentations--including the Messiah, but don't think I ever saw a ballet.

It was pretty impressive. I think the yoga over the last two years has given me a deeper appreciation for flexibility and core strength. Watching those dancers not only take poses that I know are hard, but then move in that pose was damn impressive. To say nothing of the standing on toes. And walking on toes. And running and jumping on toes. My feet hurt just watching them.

I enjoyed the evening. Several of my friends had kids in the production, and one told me he had sat through the show 3 or 4 times. His wife chimed in saying she was having "sugar plum nightmares." Heh. (Their daughter was a mouse in the production.) I was impressed with the set management and how they used the backdrop and drop screens to change scenery and sense of place quickly and seamlessly. The combination of little kids and professional dancers really gave it a magical sense, and I understood why this has been a favorite all these years.

This morning we awoke to a good old fashioned ice storm. We are staying inside, enjoying the insulation value of our windows, and trying to avoid the outside and slippery world. Today I turned on some Christmas music--Aimee Mann, Mindy Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Over the Rhine, and Sara McLachlan's Christmas albums make a nice sense of the season without making me enlist in the GWOC (Global War on Christmas).

So, those of you in the area and parts north--stay warm and safe today. Peace

December 8, 2007

The Liberal Dilemma

This week has been up and down. For whatever reason, though I love this time of year, I also usually find myself mildly depressed. Perhaps the shorter days and colder weather encourages a bit of introspection (not that I need encouragement on that front) or perhaps it is simply the end of the semester, I don't know. The highlight of the week came after the final period of my upper division class when 6 or 7 students just hung around to chat. That was pretty cool.

Tonight, SOF and I will attend the Nutcracker (and no, that isn't a Hillary fundraiser joke:) ) which should be fun. I am hearing that OU's is one of the best.


Over at Tony's blog, a few of us got into a discussion on masculine Christianity. Well, it started there and has moved in other directions. Tony and I have talked about our shared frustration with this "movement" over the last year or so. Flawed theology and a terrible approach to gender roles--if you ask me.

Well, Tony posted a nice critique of the latest iteration of this John Wayne Christianity and elicited a rather strident response from someone serving in the Armed Forces. You can read that exchange in the comments.

What interests me and is the topic of this particular post is this person's internalization of the conservative mindset on the war, liberals, and patriotism. And in that exchange, he stepped on a few of my pet peeves. First, he suggested that liberals as a whole, do not appreciate the military's contribution to this war--actually that they don't even appreciate the importance of the war--and are generally anti-American, and second that torture was subjective. On point one, I suggested otherwise, and he pointed to Dick Durbin's "nazi" comment and some vague reference to John Kerry as proof of the left's anti-american sentiment.

That sounds bad, but as it turns out, Durbin did not compare our service men and women to Nazis.
Specifically, Durbin, on the Senate floor, said, “If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.”
Yet, if you google Durbin on this, you will see right wing site after site saying that he called our soldiers Nazis. And Durbin actually apologized for this.

Why does this bother me so? I am so tired of this mantra from the right that liberals are unAmerican. I have heard it from relatives. I have heard it from friends. Why is it that conservatives can support policies that undermine our national security and no one asks them if they are unAmerican? Why is it that AG nominee Mukasey can suggest the same thing and the right sits silent?

The torture issue simply floors me. And this service person's response makes me worry about our military. I have met enough service people in my classes to know that they are not all right-wing authoritarians, but the sentiment is common enough that it scares me. He said
Now about the torture. Depends on what your definition of torture is. When I was in the Army I went to ranger school and while there I was given very little food and even less sleep for a 120 days. I have friends who have been to SERE school which has even worse stuff than that. So the question is really what constitutes torture. Give me a clear cut definition. I am not offended but regardless of the context that doesnt make our soldiers comparable to NAZI'S.
Where are we when our service people parse the meaning of torture? Of course, they are only mimicking their civilian leadership. But it stinks.

What bothers me even more is how often the people parsing the meaning of torture are the same who are lecturing me about the country's moral decline and trumpeting the need for "Biblical values" and absolutes. But to me, they suggest that it is okay to torture terrorists because they are bad people.

Anyway. Perhaps I am just tired.

December 7, 2007

Presidential power

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse spent some time going through the Bush OLC documents and found some real gems. Evidently, Bush thinks that he can simply ignore an executive order. But the best example of their arrogance is their assertion that they can :determine the law:
"Here’s number two.

The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.

Yes, that’s right. The President, according to the George W. Bush OLC, has Article II power to determine what the scope of his Article II powers are.

Never mind a little decision called Marbury v. Madison, written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, establishing the proposition that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Does this administration agree that it is emphatically the province and the duty of the judicial department to say what the President’s authority is under Article II? No, it is the President, according to this OLC, who decides the legal limits of his own Article II power.

The question “whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II,” is to be determined by the President’s minions, “exercising his constitutional authority under Article II.”"

December 6, 2007

What we suspected--Bush doesn't need Rove in order to lie

Dan Froomkin - Bush: Misleading at Best - "The White House acknowledged last night that President Bush learned in August that Iran might have shelved its nuclear weapons program, contradicting what the president said at his press conference earlier this week."

Huck and the NIE again

Crooks and Liars � Huckabee flubs NIE test - again: "This week, for example, Huckabee was asked for his thoughts about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, arguably the biggest foreign policy news in months, if not the year. Huckabee said he’d never heard of it. This morning, on MSNBC, he tried to rationalize his ignorance.

“Well, I don’t blame my staff. It is a situation where a report was released at 10:00 in the morning, the president hadn’t seen it in four years and I’m supposed to see it four hours later.”

That’s utter nonsense, and actually makes Huckabee look even dumber. As Kevin Drum explained, “The NIE was released Monday morning. He was asked about it Tuesday evening. That’s two days. Two days in which the NIE was on the front page of every newspaper; it was blanketing cable TV, talk radio, and the blogosphere; and the president of the United States addressed its conclusions in a press conference. It was blockbuster news on one of the most important foreign policy issues of the campaign and Huckabee didn’t even know about it.”

The phrase “not ready for prime-time” was practically custom made for a guy like this."


Huckabee asked to explain how his campaign is "surging" (real bad choice of words, isn't it?) and he responds by essentially saying it is the same force that fed the 5,000. God prefers him to the other candidates and you should too. What a scumbag.

Sully has the video. I can't bear to post it--it makes me ill.

December 5, 2007

Huckabee on foreign policy

Seriously? I know he is campaigning, but doesn't his staff read the damn papers?
Huckabee not aware of NIE report on Iran - Jonathan Martin's Blog - "Kuhn: I don’t know to what extent you have been briefed or been able to take a look at the NIE report that came out yesterday ...

Huckabee: I’m sorry?

Kuhn: The NIE report, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Have you been briefed or been able to take a look at it —

Huckabee: No.

Kuhn: Have you heard of the finding?

Huckabee: No.."

More Huck the Dodger?

Mike Huckabee bristled the other day when asked if he thought creationism should be taught in schools:
"That's an irrelevant question to ask me — I'm happy to answer what I believe, but what I believe is not what's going to be taught in 50 different states," Huckabee said. "Education is a state function. The more state it is, and the less federal it is, the better off we are."

Ah yes, a reasonable response. Until you look at his earlier statements:

"I believe God created the heavens and the Earth," he said at a news conference with Iowa pastors who murmured, "Amen."

"I wasn't there when he did it, so how he did it, I don't know," Huckabee said.

But he expressed frustration that he is asked about it so often, arguing with the questioner that it ultimately doesn't matter what his personal views are.

Hmm. He uses his personal views to claim role as "most Christian" in this race. But then doesn't want those personal views to be questioned when it comes to policy? He can preach to Iowa pastors for their "amen," but can't actually answer a question about whether Jesus would flip the switch on an execution? He can pander to Iowa fundamentalism about creationism, but then say that view is irrelevant to his views on education policy? Methinks the Huck wants to play it both ways. And that stinks.

December 4, 2007

More on Bush and our allies

(I posted this originally as an update to the Tuesday roundup but it made that post way too long.)

So now, Bush is worrying the British. Oh well, not that we need allies any longer, right?

Scott Harper has more Bushco insanity.
Continuing its recent spree of criminality in the alleged pursuit of law enforcement, the Bush Justice Department formally advised a British Court last week that it is fully entitled to kidnap foreigners (i.e., Britons) off the street around the world and carry them off to secret prisons. The claim was formerly thought to relate to terrorists. But no longer. Now the Bush Justice Department asserts the right to kidnap anyone it suspects of a crime. The Sunday Times (London) reports


Oh, and Joe Biden doesn't believe for one instance that Bush didn't find out about the NIE until this last week:
"“Are you telling me a president who is briefed every single morning, who is fixated on Iran, is not told back in August that the tentative conclusion of 16 intelligence agencies in the United States government said they had abandoned their effort for a nuclear weapon in ’03?” Biden said in a conference call with reporters.

“That’s not believable,” Biden added. “I refuse to believe that. If that’s true, he has the most incompetent staff in … modern American history and he’s one of the most incompetent presidents in modern American history.”"
Hmm. Liar or incompetent? Need we choose?

Top Albums of 2007--4: Challengers

Sorry for the delay. In a funk or just tired, not sure which. This week's installment of 2007 best albums is the New Pornographers
Challengers. I have not listened to this album as much as I want, but every time through, I hear new stuff and enjoy it more. "Myriad Harbors" is a great track and I have grown quite attached to "All the Old Showstoppers." As I remarked to my friend D over coffee yesterday, I am not sure how they hear some of the rhythms and harmonies as they are writing. I am not versed enough in the older albums, but many I know call this the best of the New Pornographers. I don't know about that. I enjoyed Twin Cinemas a lot, but this is pretty damn good.

Tuesday roundup

I almost wrote "Friday" roundup. My weekly clock is messed up after guest-lecturing this morning. Man, do I hate that. Almost the worst gig in the business to lecture to someone else's class.

Anyway. Just a few things going on. First, what do we make of this nie report that says that Iran stopped its nukular program 4 years ago? Besides the obvious, that Bush and Cheney didn't want us to know that as they have been angling for a justification to bomb another country? As someone said on the blogs, this reinforces the unfortunate truth that we cannot accept anything this administration says on face value. We cannot trust them at all. And that is sad. Sure am glad he is a Christian. That makes this all better.

You can watch our President fumble around this question here. Sigh.


Oh, but what about our MSM? NBC Journalist David Gregory was asked to name the cause of the increased polarization in our political dialogue today, he said it was the bloggers. Yeah, that's right, the bloggers. Words of Power suggests that is a flawed idea:
Yes, of course, it was the bloggers who polarized the US body politic.


The bloggers impeached a popular President at a time of peace and economic prosperity over testimony in a civil suit involving sexual intercourse.


The bloggers swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, morphed Max Cleland's face into Osama bin Laden's in 2002 TV ads, and smeared John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.


The bloggers fired eight US Attorneys for pursuing Bush-Cheney associates and not pursuing Bush-Cheney adversaries. The bloggers made Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights optional.

The bloggers established a Gulag system, instituted torture and rendition, and started disappearing people. The bloggers stayed on vacation while New Orleans drowned.
So many reporters seem to misunderstand the satire of Stewart and Colbert and seem to miss just how much they are the targets of that criticism. If someone like Gregory doesn't understand just how badly the MSM has dropped the ball on the key questions of the day, well,....


Opinions You Should Have agrees and has a very funny take on Karl Rove's recent spinfest:
Karl Rove today said that George Bush's presidency would have been a great success if Democrats had not forced Bush to make countless numbers of flawed decisions that have led the country down the path toward national disaster.

"We wouldn't have invaded Iraq, we would have saved New Orleans, we would have staffed FEMA," said Rove. "It's all the Democrats' fault."

Rove went on to say that if voters wanted a change from the disastrous Bush years, they'd have to vote Republican. "It's sad how these Democrats mishandled the Bush Presidency."


More humor. A friend of mine has a bumper sticker that reads "Impeach Bush/Torture Cheney." I am not sure I like it simply because I don't want us to torture anyone. But it does point to a reality that the people in support of torture are more like our enemies than they think.


And what is that torture policy gaining us? Scott Horton suggests that we are losing the respect of our allies.
Is America a nation that tortures? The question is being asked all around the world. It’s not a matter of idle speculation. Under international treaties, which many nations, not being liberated by the law-what-law?mantra of the Neocons, treat very seriously, there are specific prohibitions about cooperation with nations which torture. In particular, there is article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which forbids any state party to return a prisoner to a nation where he is likely to be tortured.

In 2006, I had an off-the-record discussion with the chief law enforcement officer of one of America’s most important allies. Having read the torture memoranda out of the Justice Department, and having seen the reports issued by the Department of the Army dealing with abuses in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo, I asked, is your Government in a position to engage in prisoner exchanges with the Americans or to allow American interrogators unfettered access to persons in your Government’s custody? He responded in a manner that showed the question had been studied carefully. “I can assure you that we take our obligations under article 3 very seriously. We will not speak publicly about this, but of course we have terminated cooperation with the United States in ways that would violate article 3. And of course we have reached the only possible conclusion, which is that the United States has embraced torture as a matter of formal policy.” This is a nation which continues to be one of our dwindling number of allies, but it faces increasingly steep challenges in cooperating while it complies with the requirements of law.

And this judgment is a very broad one—now shared almost universally by America’s allies. We don’t have to consider what the enemies think.

In fact, Canada's Federal Court has actually ruled that America does not
comply adequately with Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention, which prohibits return to persecution, or Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits return to torture — specifically naming the Maher Arar case as an example of the United States’ failure to protect.

As one of the experts who described the ways in which U.S. asylum law (in particular, the one-year filing deadline) violates international law, I am proud to note that the court found “the Applicant’s experts to be more credible, both in terms of their expertise and the sufficiency, directness and logic of their reports” and “more objective and dispassionate in their analysis and report” than the government’s experts. Of particular note, the Court found that “it would be unreasonable to conclude that the one-year bar, as it is applied in the U.S., is consistent with the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention” and that this bar “has a disproportionate impact on gender and sexual orientation claims” for asylum. The Court also found that women making asylum claims based on domestic violence are not sufficiently protected under U.S. law.
And these are our friends. I am sure glad that Bush and Cheney have been given such a long leash.

Rove weighs in on the partisanship

And it is laughable:
Without a trace of self-consciousness, Rove complained that politics in DC have become too negative because it’s gotten personal and nasty. He blames it on the Beltway predilection for carrying a grudge, unlike the folks down in Texas, where he says everyone shakes hands, moves on, and gets along.
Yes, because Bush and Rove were known for their magnanimity and grace towards their political enemies. Oh wait:
Hottest exchange: The first audience member to ask a question during the open Q&A wanted to know when Rove would stand trial for treason for his involvement in the outing of Valerie Plame. It was the only time all night Rove really seemed rattled. Visibly angry, Rove sputtered about the “stupid civil lawsuits” filed by Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson.

Just remember. Our great moral President not only hired Rove, but he protected him after Rove outed a CIA agent who worked FOR US!

December 3, 2007

If your brain is a liar, doesn't that make you one too?

Just a little reminder that our President protected and defended Karl Rove at every possible turn--even when he broke the law or undermined our security. Now that Rove is out of the White House, the little snake is on tour trying to revise history--evidently trying to influence Bush's legacy from the outside. First up, he has suggested that it was the Democrats who pushed for a 2002 war vote and that our beloved President opposed that because "thought it made it too political." Yes, the people who compared Max Cleland to Saddam thought forcing the Democrats to vote on the war right before an election might politicize it. Of course they did. That is why Bush and his toadies pushed for it. Hopefully, Rove is far too slimy to pull this off, and some news reports (and former colleagues) have already disagreed with him.
News accounts and transcripts at the time show Bush arguing against delay. Asked on Sept. 13, 2002, about Democrats who did not want to vote until after the U.N. Security Council acted, Bush said, "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary at the time, said Daschle had pressed Bush over the summer to bring the matter to Congress but for consultation, not necessarily a vote. Bush decided to seek a vote authorizing force, Fleischer said. "It was definitely the Bush administration that set it in motion and determined the timing, not the Congress," he said. "I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong."

Former White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. was asked on MSNBC yesterday about Rove's comments but told only that Rove asserted Democrats pushed Bush into war. Card laughed and said that "sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain."
But I hope every time this sleaze opens his mouth, America remembers that Bush didn't mind the Cleland stuff, or the Plame stuff. Every time Rove lied or broke the law, or did something despicable, Bush cheered. That is the kind of man we have in office.